Definition of Qi

What is Qi? Qi means breathe or air in Chinese. This is the easy part.


The word ‘qi’ in a key concept in many Chinese metaphysics disciplines including Feng Shui. The word ‘qi’ can have different meaning depending on where it is applied and trying to come out with a single definition can be quite a challenge.

Qi is often defined as a form of energy. For the uninitiated it is difficult to relate qi to energy and therefore instead of trying to come out with a definition of qi, I will attempt to explain the meaning of qi by relating to it in the practice of Feng Shui.

There are two type of qi namely Sheng Qi (Living Qi) and Sha Qi (Killing Qi). In Feng Shui we want to live in a place with plenty of Sheng Qi and to avoid places or offending structures that generate Sha Qi.

What is Qi?

Since we cannot see qi, the next best thing is to look for indicators of qi. A place with thriving fauna and flora has plenty of Sheng Qi. On the other hand a place that is dry and rocky or sandy without much fauna and flora is said to be lacking in qi. This is a first clue to the meaning of qi. It is something that is supports life!

In an ancient Feng Shui text, we learn that “qi is carried by the wind and accumulates near water”. From this statement we know that this life giving Sheng Qi exists in the atmosphere, can be blown away and gathers where there is water. This is another clue to the meaning of qi. It is some sort of life giving ‘energy’ that can be found in the air!

We also know that the mountain ranges with lush green vegetation are a rich source and carrier of qi. In Feng Shui, mountains are known as Dragon and hence qi is also known as the dragons breathe. This is yet another clue to the meaning of qi.

Certain structures like high tension pylon lines generate Sha or Killing Qi and it can be detrimental to health if we live near to one for a long time. Is this another manifestation of qi? This time is it some sort of strong electromagnetic force!

In the study of Feng Shui there is Xing Fa (shape techniques) and Li Fa (calculation of qi). Xing Fa is about the surrounding forms and how they affect us. Li Fa on the other is about qi that we cannot see. It is about the effect of planetary movements on us. This is a qi that we cannot see but we know where they are at different time by applying the formulas left to us by our forefathers.

So far I have not attempted to give a definition of qi. Instead I have tried to reveal the meaning of qi through examples and practices in Feng Shui. I hope you now have at better understanding of qi (at least from a Feng Shui perspective) and understand why it is so difficult to come out with a definition of qi.

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